- 1776- The revolutionary war was one of two of the most beneficial wars for the US. This gave the US the ability to act as a sovereign nation without being ruled and taxed from another land. With the US winning the war we were able to set up the first true Republic, and possibly the last, since the fall of Rome. This set in motion the growth and prosperity that we have today.
- 1812- The war of 1812 was the first war of our new country and it was a statement to the rest of the world that we were not going to go away in the night. The British were upset about losing the revolutionary war, so they continued to antagonize the newly formed United States of America. This was a needed show of strength to allow us to remain a sovereign nation and be recognized as so.
- Civil War- The civil war was the second of the two most beneficial wars for the US. This was beneficial because it not only abolished slavery, but there were a lot of differences that separated the North from the South, this war brought both sides together under a uniformed union.
- Spanish American war- The war would be started, it seems, like all other US wars in recent history have started, with a ship being sunk. Even today no one really knows if the USS Maine had an internal or external explosion, but this kicked off the Spanish American war. This would be the first time the US would be seen on the world stage and it was a hit. The Spanish didn't seem to stand a chance against the US. This would also be the first time that the Monroe Doctrine would be carried out by the US. The downfall of this conflict is that America saw themselves as imperialistic, which they didn't want. This would set the stage for WWI and WWII with US citizens not wanting to take part in Europe’s wars.
- WWI- The first of two world wars where the major players were the US, UK, Russia, and Germany. This war was not started by the Americans, but was finished by them. Although the US sought to publicly be seen as a neutral nation, we were far from it. Because of the “Special Relationship” with the UK we ended up siding with the British even though the US has strong ties to German ancestry. The general consensus is that the man on the street didn't want to join the war, but due to political and diplomatic ties to certain countries the representative government went against the wishes of the people by covertly choosing sides. While the US was sending supplies to the Allies a US supply ship was sunk by a German U-boat. This along with other factors entered the US into WWI.
- WWII- This again was another European war that the man on the street didn't want to join, so the US remained neutral. Some say, and this is my line of thinking as well, that FDR provoked the Japanese into hitting Pearl Harbor to bring us into WWII. As a neutral nation the US put a trade embargo on oil against the Japanese while continuing to supply the allies. Japan needing oil to keep its war machine going in Asia warned the US that they would risk retaliation. When the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor, the US entered into WWII on 12/7/41.
- Cold War- Because of tensions between Communist Russia and the US, many conflicts arose including the police actions of Korea and Vietnam. In these conflicts the US never formally declared war against North Korea, Vietnam, or Russia, but the UN did sanction and allow conflicts to arise between the US and Russia without either nation going directly to war. These conflicts were a direct result of US policy to thwart Communism including producing false evidence to further political agendas including the infamous Gulf of Tonkin resolution.
- Post Cold War- After the Cold War the US didn't need to militarize itself. The threat of MAD or mutually assured destruction had been taken away with the collapse of the Berlin wall. It seemed like there would be 100 years peace afterward, but the peace didn't last long. Soon we were in Operation Desert Storm, Bosnia, and Kosovo, none of which were official war declarations by the US, but sanctioned by the UN as police actions instead.
- War on Terrorism- This is another undeclared war by the US which has lead to nation building in the Middle East. After the attacks on the World Trade Centers on 9/11/01 the US has taken upon itself eradicating the world of terrorists starting with Afghanistan with total public support equaling the support of Pearl Harbor on 12/7/41. The public support has quickly eroded because like the Spanish American war, the general public doesn't want to be imperialistic.
It seems to me that there are some common themes coming from American military history. In the beginning we had to protect ourselves and make sure the world knew that America wasn't to be messed with which was overwhelmingly established during the Spanish American war. Also, Americans do not want to be imperialistic like the UK, France, Germany, and Rome. Lastly, an attack on 1 American is an attack on all Americans. I do not see the average American wanting to be the global military power, but for some reason our ELECTED officials seem to.
“I have always given it as my decided opinion that no nation had a right to inter-meddle in the internal concerns of another; and that, if this country could, consistent with its engagements, maintain a strict neutrality and thereby preserve peace. George Washington - Letter to James Monroe, August 25, 1796”
“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. ...The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. George Washington - Farewell Address, September 17, 1797”
“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none should be our motto. Thomas Jefferson - First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801”
“If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Letter to William Short, 1791”
“We certainly cannot deny to other nations that principle whereon our own government is founded, that every nation has a right to govern itself internally under what forms it pleases, and to change these forms at its own will. Thomas Jefferson - To Thomas Pinckney, December 30, 1792”
Our Founding Fathers thought it best that the US remain not only neutral, but friendly with all and to let every nation govern itself as it saw fit. It seems that there has been a trend since WWI to step away from out Founders visions and it has gotten us into trouble. I would also say that our Founders along with the general public today could care less who the world powers were as long as all 50 United States were protected from foreign invasion. Instead, our ELECTED officials seem to have their own quest for power and have become corrupt, but they forget it's the poor who spill the blood in defense of this country to preserve and protect the Constitution because they're the one's who need it the most.